December 21, 2001

Failure of a Hammondsport, N.Y., manufacturer to follow a range of safety and health standards has resulted in 50 citations by OSHA and proposed penalties of $105,750.

OSHA cited Mercury Aircraft, Inc. for unsafe conditions at its Wheeler Ave. plant ranging from poor maintenance of machinery to fire and electrical hazards and inadequate records of job-related injuries.

Mercury Aircraft had an injury and illness rate greater than average for manufacturing facilities and was inspected by OSHA's Syracuse area office under the "Site Specific Targeting Program." The program focuses enforcement resources on work places that are most likely to have hazardous conditions that must be corrected, according to Diane M. Brayden, OSHA area director in Syracuse.

Among 42 alleged serious violations found during the inspection were inadequate maintenance of overhead hoists, lifting devices, forklifts, bench grinders and spray paint areas; unguarded floor openings; failure to provide personal protective equipment; inadequate ventilation of flammable storage rooms and improperly stored flammable liquids.

The company also did not have "lockout-tagout" procedures in place to prevent the accidental startup of machinery undergoing maintenance or repair, and had neither electrical safety procedures and training nor a confined-space program and training for employees.

The alleged serious violations carry a total proposed penalty of $103,050.

Alleged other-than-serious violations included failure to maintain adequate record keeping documentation; failure to maintain adequate respiratory protection program; using extension cords as permanent wiring, and failure to maintain punch press inspection records. These violations carry a total proposed penalty of $2,700.

A serious violation is defined by OSHA as a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.


Exposing workers to unsafe levels of lead may cost a Black River Falls, Wis., company $250,000 in proposed penalties. OSHA alleged that Lunda Construction Co. committed safety and health violations by over exposing workers to lead and failing to implement proper engineering and administrative controls to protect employees.

"These citations deliver an important message," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "Employers have a responsibility to follow standards and protect workers from excessive exposure to harmful substances such as lead."

OSHA began a safety and health inspection at the 6th Street Viaduct Project in Milwaukee on June 11, according to George Yoksas, area director for the Milwaukee OSHA office.

Alleged willful violations involved the company's failure to properly implement and manage a lead program while demolishing a bridge that was known to have lead coatings. OSHA cited the company for exposing workers above the permissible limit without proper engineering controls and a proper respiratory program. Other willful violations were for failing to ensure employees properly used protective coveralls, permitting employees to wear street clothes under their coveralls, and permitting employees to wear the same personal footwear in a hazardous lead environment and their homes.

Alleged serious violations were for failing to adequately monitor the air to determine the level of exposure while employees cut lead coatings, failing to implement protective measures for employees until air monitoring determined the hazards at the site, and using objective and historical data that was inadequate and did not reflect the conditions at the worksite.

Other alleged serious violations involved the company's failure to inform workers in writing of the air monitoring results, failure to update the lead compliance plan in the past six months, and failure to conduct blood lead tests within specified time frames. Employees were allowed to eat in contaminated areas in their work clothes, shower facilities were not provided, and respirator fit test records were incomplete. One employee was observed working under a suspended load of bridge steel being moved by a crane.

A willful violation is one in which the employer knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.

Lunda Construction Co. has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission or request an informal hearing with the OSHA area director.


Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health John Henshaw announced that OSHA is withdrawing an inactive indoor air quality regulation proposed in 1994. The decision was reached with the support of major anti-smoking public health groups including the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"Most of the activity on workplace smoking restrictions is now taking place at the state and local level," Henshaw said. "Today's action takes the positive step of setting aside what had become a contentious and unproductive effort. Of course, this action does not preclude future agency action if the need arises."

According to the American Lung Association, there has been a 50 percent increase in workplaces that have a smoke-free policy since 1994. Today, nearly 70 percent of employees work in businesses that have instituted smoke-free workplace policies.

"The urgency for federal action that existed when the rule making began has been changed by the actions of local communities, private employers and the states," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a letter to OSHA.


The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a new training partnership with the Laborers International Union to develop an anthrax/biohazard training curriculum. The new partnership was prompted by the recent anthrax outbreaks across the country.

A grant totaling $208,650 from the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration was awarded to the Laborers as a first step in this partnership. The course material will be developed and tested through the combined expertise of the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Laborers and other appropriate government entities.

"Our best response to anthrax and other threats of bioterrorism is to be prepared," said John L. Henshaw, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "It is important that we have workers who are well trained to respond to such threats safely and at the same time can help the country get back to normal as quickly as possible."

The Laborers' certified hazardous waste workers will utilize this new curriculum to upgrade their skills and fine-tune the training process. After pilot tests are complete, the curriculum will be used by other organizations to train workers in the removal of biochemical agents, including twelve OSHA Training Institute Education Centers and state and local One-Stop centers.

The final training curriculum for distribution across the country will include training manuals, CD-ROM and web-based curriculum, a PowerPoint presentation and other training tools.


Because the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) can save the lives of workers who experience cardiac arrest while on the job, OSHA has encouraged employers to consider making this equipment available in their workplaces.

"AEDs are easy to use and can make the critical difference in reviving individuals who suffer a cardiac crisis," said OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. "Administered within three minutes, the electric shock (defibrillation) restores the normal rhythm to the victim's heart and can increase survival rates from less than 5 percent to nearly 75 percent. Immediate defibrillation can revive more than 90 percent of victims."

OSHA has issued a fact card and a technical information bulletin on the use of AEDs, encouraging employers to take advantage of this technology. AEDs are lightweight and run on rechargeable batteries. They are designed to analyze the heart rhythm and automatically indicate when to administer the shock. Each unit costs from $3,000 to $4,500.

Each year 300,000 to 400,000 individuals die from cardiac arrest. Most of these deaths occur outside hospitals. Cardiac arrest is often due to chaotic beating of the heart, which can be restored to normal rhythm if treated promptly with defibrillation. With each minute of delay in defibrillation, 10 percent fewer victims survive.

Placing AEDs in workplaces could significantly increase survival rates. In 1999 and 2000, 815 of 6,339 workplace fatalities reported to OSHA resulted from cardiac arrest. The agency estimates if AEDs helped restore 40 percent of those who suffer a cardiac crisis, as many as 120 lives would be saved each year. Workers involved in shift work, holding high stress jobs, or exposed to certain chemicals or electrical hazards face a higher risk of heart disease and cardiac arrest.

AED's have proven their value at the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters where they are strategically placed throughout the building. Last Friday, a Labor Department employee collapsed. Co-workers called the DOL Health Unit, and a nurse came and used a nearby AED to treat the victim. The individual was resuscitated, sent to the hospital and is now recuperating following heart surgery.


According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released this week, a total of 5.7 million injuries and illnesses were reported in private industry workplaces during 2000, resulting in a rate of 6.1 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers. Employers reported about the same number of cases compared with 1999 and a 2 percent increase in the hours worked, reducing the case rate from 6.3 in 1999 to 6.1 in 2000. The rate for 2000 was the lowest since the Bureau began reporting this information in the early 1970s.

Among goods-producing industries, manufacturing had the highest incidence rate in 2000 (9.0 cases per 100 full-time workers). Within the service-producing sector, the highest incidence rate was reported for transportation and public utilities (6.9 cases per 100 full-time workers), followed by wholesale and retail trade (5.9 cases per 100 workers).

Of the 5.7 million total injuries and illnesses reported in 2000, about 2.8 million were lost workday cases, that is, they required recuperation away from work or restricted duties at work, or both. The remaining 2.9 million were cases without lost workdays. The incidence rate for lost workday cases was the same in 2000 as in 1999 (3.0 cases per 100 workers), while the rate for cases without lost workdays decreased from 3.3 cases per 100 workers to 3.2 cases per 100 workers.

Lost workday cases are comprised of two case types, those requiring at least one day away from work, with or without restricted work activity, and those requiring restricted activity only. The latter type of case may involve shortened hours, a temporary job change, or temporary restrictions on certain duties (for example, no heavy lifting) of a worker's regular job. At 1.8 cases per 100 workers in 2000, the rate for cases with days away from work declined from 1.9 in 1999 and was the lowest on record. The rate for cases involving restricted activity only was 1.2 cases per 100 employees, the same level as in 1998 and l999. Also for the third consecutive year, the rate in manufacturing for restricted-activity-only cases (2.5) was higher than the rate for days-away-from-work cases (2.0). In all other divisions, the rate for days-away-from-work cases was higher than the rate for restricted-activity-only cases.

Of the 5.7 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2000, 5.3 million were injuries. Injury rates generally were higher for mid-size establishments (those employing 50 to 249 workers) than for smaller or larger establishments, although this pattern did not hold within certain industry divisions. Nine industries, each having at least 100,000 injuries, accounted for about 1.6 million injuries, or 29 percent of the 5.3 million total. These industries made up 23 percent of total private industry employment, and all but one of them were in the service-producing sector.

There were about 362,500 newly reported cases of occupational illnesses in private industry in 2000. Manufacturing accounted for nearly three-fifths of these cases. Disorders associated with repeated trauma, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and noise-induced hearing loss, accounted for 4 percent of the 5.7 million total workplace injuries and illnesses. They were, however, the dominant type of illness reported, making up 67 percent of the 362,500 total illness cases. Sixty-eight percent of the repeated trauma cases were in manufacturing industries.

The survey measures the number of new work-related illness cases that are recognized, diagnosed, and reported during the year. Some conditions (for example, long-term latent illnesses caused by exposure to carcinogens) often are difficult to relate to the workplace and are not adequately recognized and reported. These long-term latent illnesses are believed to be understated in the survey's illness measures. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of the reported new illnesses are those that are easier to directly relate to workplace activity (for example, contact dermatitis or carpal tunnel syndrome).

The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses is a Federal/State program in which employer reports are collected from about 176,000 private industry establishments and processed by state agencies cooperating with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational injury and illness data for coal, metal, and nonmetal mining and for railroad activities were provided by the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration. The survey measures nonfatal injuries and illnesses only. The survey excludes the self-employed; farms with fewer than 11 employees; private households; federal government agencies; and, for national estimates, employees in State and local government agencies.

The annual survey provides estimates of the number and frequency (incidence rates) of workplace injuries and illnesses based on logs kept by private industry employers during the year. These records reflect not only the year's injury and illness experience, but also the employer's understanding of which cases are work related under current recordkeeping guidelines of the U.S. Department of Labor. The number of injuries and illnesses reported in any given year also can be influenced by the level of economic activity, working conditions and work practices, worker experience and training, and the number of hours worked.